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Startups, Entrepreneurs, be better informed before you 'Pitch it'!
Curated by Marc Kneepkens
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How to start a startup without a technical person - Oxygen Accelerator

How to start a startup without a technical person - Oxygen Accelerator | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

The most common question we receive from budding entrepreneurs is how to find a technical co-founder. However, finding a CTO in an active tech hub such as London is anything but simple.

There is a common perception that one cannot start an innovative company in this day and age without a developer and consequently the demand for them is insatiable – which is even giving breeding ground for new practices such as acqui-hires. As a result, the surprise in our community was widespread when we recently accepted a company to our accelerator programme consisting only of “business people.” Naturally, this begged for the question: How do you get a startup accelerator ready without a technical person? We sat down with Vidsy OA14 to find out. Read more by clicking on image or title.



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"Our work with Growthink was very helpful for creating a business plan to focus our efforts in the short term and increase our value over the long term."
Jack Bergstrand, CEO
Brand Velocity, Inc.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Smart solution, before hiring that expensive developer/CTO. Create customers, prove it.

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YC for Hardware

YC for Hardware | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/gQq2

As YC has grown, we’ve funded more and more hardware companies.  Hardware companies have very different needs from pure software companies, and we’re delighted to announce a number of new resources for YC hardware companies. 

First, we’re excited to announce a partnership with Bolt, which we kicked off a couple of days ago.  Bolt’s partners and engineering staff will advise YC hardware companies on product development and manufacturing, and YC hardware startups will be able to work with Bolt’s staff at Autodesk’s Pier 9 Workshop facility with no cost to our companies as part of the partnership. Their facility is the the best prototyping shop I’ve ever seen.  Also, Bolt's partners are some of the best hardware people I've ever met.

Second, we’re also happy to announce a number of new deals for our hardware startups--across-the-board discounts & expedited services, free consultations and prototyping, and volume pricing for YC startups.  These range from 3D printing and rapid injection molding, to PCB fab & assembly, metalworking, design expertise, RF and carrier testing, early access to dev kits, product photography & international scaling.

Some of our deal partners include Novatel, Proto Services, The Build Shop, Jatco, Studio Fathom, Fictiv, DIX Metals, The Collaborationist, and Tempo Automation, and YC startups CircuitHub, Octopart, Tilt and Upverter.  YC hardware startups Pebble, SoundFocus, MadeSolid, Cruise and Rigetti Computing have offered to help out with machine & equipment needs.  And we’ll be working on many more deals for YC hardware startups in the coming months; please get in touch with if you can help our startups make better hardware faster.

Third, we’re building a mini-electronics prototyping shop in Mountain View, to supplement the much larger Pier 9 lab on the Embarcadero.  This way, hardware startups can do some quick PCB rework as needed, or make a 3D print anytime during the week. Read more: http://snip.ly/gQq2


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great resources for hardware startups.

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6 Great Business Models to Consider for a Startup

6 Great Business Models to Consider for a Startup | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/e4ma

Be sure to describe the consumer pain to be relieved by the enterprise and how big a wedge can be driven between what customers are willing to pay and the costs.

People often throw around the term business model in discussing startups.
But just what is a business model? Which ones work best and why? How do you know if your startup has the right one?
A business model explains which consumer pain your startup chooses to relieve, why your solution works better than competing ones and how big a wedge a company can drive between what customers are willing to pay and the costs.
I recently spent three hours with some clients, executives from Beijing, to discuss these questions: I presented several business models and their financial benefits.
After sharing the idea of the business model canvas, developed by Alexander Osterwalder to help entrepreneurs design a customized business model, I gave the Chinese executives an hour to "paint" a new business idea. (We did not use the interactive tool; they wrote their choices on a white board and addressed the class in Chinese. With the help of a translator, I asked follow-up questions.)
They did so brilliantly, picking two business ideas that clearly passed these three tests.
Read on for a quick review of the six most interesting business models I presented, some of which they found inspiring.

Read more here: http://snip.ly/e4ma



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Growthink really understands how to create compelling business plans and raise capital, and Growthink's Capital Raising Products succeed in infusing this knowledge.
-John Morris
Managing Director, GKM Ventures,
Board of Governors, Tech Coast Angels

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Study business models and pick the right one for your business. Starting out the right way is essential.

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Ian Harris's curator insight, February 7, 2015 8:47 PM

A really insightful expose' of several business models that may help you to configure a new business. Excellent!

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What Is a Business Model? - HBR

What Is a Business Model? - HBR | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/NJnr

A history, from Drucker to Christensen.

...Introducing a better business model into an existing market is the definition of a disruptive innovation. To help strategists understand how that works Clay Christensen presented a particular take on the matter in “In Reinventing Your Business Model” designed to make it easier to work out how a new entrant’s business model might disrupt yours. This approach begins by focusing on the customer value proposition — what Christensen calls the customer’s “job-to-be-done.” It then identifies those aspects of the profit formula, the processes, and the resources that make the rival offering not only better, but harder to copy or respond to —  a different distribution system, perhaps (the iTunes store); or faster inventory turns (Kmart);  or maybe a different manufacturing approach (steel minimills)...

To read the whole article and see a summary of business models click here:

http://snip.ly/NJnr



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Great info. Loving your business plan template, makes writing a plan almost fun.


Craig Heppell
Nambour, Queensland

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, January 24, 2015 9:35 AM

Excellent article and overview of many business models. Must read for any entrepreneur and business developer.

Ian Harris's curator insight, February 8, 2015 7:50 PM

A good refresher on exactly what a business model is and how they have developed.

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How 'venture builders' are changing the startup model | VentureBeat | Business | by Ali Diallo, Media Investment Tech Ventures

How 'venture builders' are changing the startup model | VentureBeat | Business | by Ali Diallo, Media Investment Tech Ventures | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/qLPH

The venture-building philosophy is a rising movement in the tech and startup industries, both in the U.S. and internationally.

If you haven’t yet heard of venture-builders — also called tech studios, startup factories, or venture production studios — let me introduce them to you: They’re organizations that build companies using their own ideas and resources.

Unlike incubators and accelerators, venture builders don’t take any applications, nor do they run any sort of competitive program that culminates in a Demo Day. Instead, they pull business ideas from within their own network of resources and assign internal teams to develop them (engineers, advisors, business developers, sales managers, etc.).

You’ll want to get used to the idea because we’re going to see a lot more venture-building organizations emerging. Read more here:

http://snip.ly/qLPH


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"With Growthink on your side, you are in a win-win situation. They placed themselves in my situation and analyzed my business as if it were their own business. I could never recommend any firm but Growthink to provide business planning services at this level of quality."
Prem K. Kapani, CEO

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

A new way of creating new business is growing from the startup concept. Taking all of the best aspects together and putting them in very focused setups is a great idea. It would be a great place to work before starting your own startup or small business. So much to learn. Also the perfect place to launch your own idea from, all the resources and support are right there.

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The Seed Bubble Has Popped

The Seed Bubble Has Popped | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

New data published today by Mattermark CEO and co-founder Danielle Morrill concerning the venture capital industry paints a relatively stiff picture: Seed rounds are taking it on the chin.

More precisely, according to Mattermark, the number of seed rounds in 2014 fell compared to 2013, and the trend is accelerating. The volume of seed deals — not counting a few corporate categories like biotechnology — had grown every year from at least 2005 to 2013: click here to see the graphs in original article.

Ouch. Bear in mind that the total dollar amount of money flowing into seed deals barely declined, so, of course, we are seeing the average seed deal increase.

All this should square with your gut. It has felt for some time that the number of yahoos picking up a million dollars to build flipmeat for Yahoo has been declining. At the same time, the seed round your friend raised was almost a Series A. The data agrees.

So has the seed bubble popped? I think it’s fair to say that it has despite the only slight decline in the total dollar amount that is being invested at the level. That’s due to the fact that we’ve become too loose with what counts as a seed round. So if we used an older measuring stick, the downtick would be more accelerated.

It’s up to you to decide what the impact will be of the dramatically slowing seed deal flow. I think it could slightly ease hiring tensions in hot markets, but that would be only a minor benefit.

Is this indicative that the  larger technology inflation — or “bubble” in the parlance of some — is headed for a crash? Look at that Series A line in the second chart. It seems like the music will play a little longer.

 

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"The Growthink team took our thoughts and ideas and transformed them into a well researched, operationally sound, top notch business plan. Most importantly, they kept us involved in the process and challenged us to build a better business model. I have and would recommend Growthink to any business."
 John Gumersell Jr., Founder


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

It looks like we're back to normal levels for seed funding.

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Xiaomi Will Invest in More Startups to Capitalize on Smart Homes

Xiaomi Will Invest in More Startups to Capitalize on Smart Homes | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
http://snip.ly/x0CD

Xiaomi Corp. will invest in “a lot more” startups this year, President Bin Lin said, as the Chinese phone maker seeks software and services to capitalize on the burgeoning business of smart homes. The investments will include appliances and hardware that complement Xiaomi’s existing devices, Lin said during an interview at the company’s Beijing headquarters. Xiaomi took stakes in more than 20 startups in the past 18 months, Lin said, and the company has introduced products including air purifiers and light bulbs that can be controlled by smartphones.

More here: http://snip.ly/x0CD



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"The Growthink team took our thoughts and ideas and transformed them into a well researched, operationally sound, top notch business plan. Most importantly, they kept us involved in the process and challenged us to build a better business model. I have and would recommend Growthink to any business."
 John Gumersell Jr., Founder

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

A new corporate entry for startups in Asia. Xiaomi is going for the Internet of Things trend and carving out their positions.

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18 Ways to Sink Your Startup (Infographic)

18 Ways to Sink Your Startup (Infographic) | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/QQUG

If you're making any of these mistakes, your business will pay the price.

Successfully building a startup can feel like the sort of thing that requires planets aligning. Screwing up a startup, however, is incredibly simple.

Some entrepreneurs try to do it all on their own. Some don’t get along with their co-founders. Both of these mistakes can stop a company before it starts. Other things to avoid: hiring bad computer programmers, raising too little or too much money and, of course, a half-hearted effort.

These are just a few of the fatal mistakes that can befall startups, as illustrated in the infographic by Anna Vital, information designer at Funders and Founders. Take a look and see if you’re in danger of falling into these traps. See infographic here: http://snip.ly/QQUG



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"I appreciate beyond measure all the information you provide ~ so many inside tips, w/o which I wouldn't have access to. There is so much to consider, and I've passed this particular email along to others for their respective ideas, and the foundation on which they may be built."
 "I like the style of presentation, the breadth of information given, and the myriad ways to apply the information. Great stuff ~ thanks so much!!"
--TL Elliott

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great infographic.

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At Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, MBA startup fever takes hold - Fortune

At Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, MBA startup fever takes hold - Fortune | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/eLfg

Across the U.S., business schools are ramping up entrepreneurship programming, as students pursue dreams of lucrative innovation, and startup glory.

The Graduate Management Admission Council’s recently released 2014 Alumni Perspectives Report reveals a significant rise in the number of business school graduates launching new businesses. From a survey of self-employed alumni who graduated from 1959 to 2013, GMAC has found that 45% of 2010-2013 grads started businesses directly after finishing B-school, while 80% of self-employed alumni from years past worked several years for an employer before embarking on entrepreneurial ventures. Read more at:http://snip.ly/eLfg


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"The team at Growthink delivered exceptional quality service in every aspect of their client services. Their staff of professionals were extremely instrumental in fine tuning my creative vision into a well developed business plan."
  James E. Spence, Jr, Founder & CEO
At Bread Boutique

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

The 'culture' of entrepreneurship and creating startups is benefitting the business schools.

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Five US tech hubs you probably didn't know about

Five US tech hubs you probably didn't know about | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/rRWu

These cities might just be the next Silicon Valley.

Move over Silicon Valley. The current tech boom is not just in the Bay Area, and some unlikely cities are gaining traction as key hubs.

While places like San Francisco, New York City and Austin, Texas, are often cited as thriving tech areas, other areas are gaining ground.

"These are areas that for the most part have a cheap cost of living and are major company hubs," said AJ Smith, a spokeswoman for the financial advice tech start-up SmartAsset.

Because every major company and government agency has a growing demand for skilled tech workers, more cities are attracting tech talent, she said.

"That is how these places become tech hubs," Smith added.


http://snip.ly/rRWu



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"Thanks for all you do to encourage entrepreneurship! You and your team have successfully created a road map that most could follow to completion and exit strategy. Yes, it is possible to do these things on your own, but it can be short-cutted by using your strategy."
 Jay Ed Moore

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The personal costs of raising money | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Francisco Dao, 50Kings

The personal costs of raising money | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Francisco Dao, 50Kings | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/7bMn

In the tech industry, we celebrate raising money as a victory second only to that of a successful exit. But there's a huge downside to raising money that isn't often discussed.

And while I recognize that venture capital is often an unavoidable requirement for growing a business, most entrepreneurs, and the tech community at large — who often seem to push people into raising VC — would be better served viewing it as a necessary evil as opposed to an absolute win.

I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories of entrepreneurs getting fired from their companies by their VCs, but most of those stories only tell the tale of the final straw. Have you ever thought about all the intermediate steps and indignities that came before the firing? Before those entrepreneurs signed the first term sheet, whatever they were working on was theirs and theirs alone. If you think about it, it’s a long journey from owning it all to getting fired from your dream. That’s a journey that is rarely discussed and not well understood.


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"I have so much gratitude in my soul right now. Growthink has helped me to come a long way since I've found the company and started making my business plan.
I'm counting my blessings every day."
Best Regards,
Trevor Houlihan



Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Keep your independence or work for the VC's? Big question.

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5 keys to getting your startup story heard

5 keys to getting your startup story heard | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Tips for creating not only a story, but momentum to carry you through the beginning stages of any new venture.

http://snip.ly/olYo

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Good advice.

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The ultimate guide to pricing your company for a fundraise (Or, how much is too much?) | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Armando Biondi, AdEspresso

The ultimate guide to pricing your company for a fundraise (Or, how much is too much?) | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Armando Biondi, AdEspresso | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Your company’s valuation is probably the single most important number in your whole fundraising story.

Your company’s valuation is probably the single most important number in your whole fundraising story.
Sure, you need to have some early traction, you need to have a product out there and a convincing enough team; but those are prerequisites. Don’t even go into a fundraising conversation if you don’t have them, and much has been written about what people look for nowadays.
But valuation? That’s where you make or break the conversation. If yours is too high, potential investors will prioritize other opportunities over yours; if it’s too low, they will ask themselves what’s wrong.
If the valuation you’re asking for is completely off the chart, that’s a huge red flag and it signals that you have little or no idea what you’re talking about (and leaves investors wondering what other things you don’t have an idea about). Plus, if you look for answers online, the average one you’ll get is: “it depends.” Yeah, thanks.
So let me break down what valuation you should target based on the stage you’re in, which is, incidentally, also what the average investor expects to hear based on the valuation of the company you give them:
Up to $1 million valuation: This is probably what you should be aiming for if it’s the first external money and/or your first company and/or you’re taking money from friends and family, and/or you barely have a prototype (or a landing page and/or a few thousands in users/revenue). This is also what you’ll get if you’re selected for an accelerator program (or a little less in some cases, a little more in others). Also consider that U.S. people will be ok buying at around $1M while the rest of the world will be a bit more comfortable buying at around $500K.
$1-3 million valuation: This is a price you should use to incentivize and reward the early movers so you can build momentum on the fundraising. This might mean the first $100,000-250,000 of angel investors not directly related to your friends and family network, or the network of angels surrounding the accelerator (if you joined one). To justify this valuation, you don’t really need anything more than the requirements of the previous stage, just the fact that somebody else — besides you, your cofounders, and your dog — believes in what you’re doing enough to throw some money at you. It’s called “social proof.”
$3–6 million valuation: At this price you are expected to not only have a product out there but also to have 5-20 percent month-over-month growth rate for at least 3-6 months. Use this rule of thumb: Add $1million to the valuation for every 5 percent of traction month-over-month you’re gaining. If you have a previous success under your belt, you’ll be able to raise at this valuation with less validation, but do remember that this is pretty much the range at which every startup in the world tries to raise the first $500,000-750,000.
$6–9 million valuation: If you’re a Y Combinator company nowadays, you can pretty much raise at this price with the same validation and metrics as in the previous category, or less. But if you’re not, this is where you can go with around 6 to 12 months of operational data plus 10 to 25 percent of month-over-month growth. At this point, traction is not enough though; absolute numbers become important. Investors will expect you to have $30,000-50,000 per month in revenue or more, and will usually be fine in buying at a valuation 100X your monthly revenue or 8X-9X your yearly revenue. Your target raise should be $1–2 million.
$9-12 million valuation: Now things start to become interesting. For this price, you’re not expected to be the scrappy startup anymore; you’re expected to be an actual company. You’ll need an established product out there, 12-18 months of operational data, and some interesting absolute numbers paired with a consistent month-over-month growth rate (the bigger the growth is, the smaller the absolute numbers need to be). But, more importantly, people will want to take a look at the cost structure, how you managed it, and how close you are to profitability. Your target raise should be $2–3 million.
$12–15 million valuation: To raise money at this point, the main question for which you need a very good answer is: “How do you intend to grow to 10 to 20 times the valuation investors are paying for right now?” So, besides the already-mentioned elements, what becomes really important is the go-to-market strategy you’re already executing to gain market share, and to go from initial traction to initial scale. “What are the customer lifetime value (LTV) and customer acquisition cost (CAC) calculations?” is another typical question. Know the answer. Your target raise should be $3–5 million.
The overall issue is that the average founder is as lousy at pricing his own company as he is at pricing his own product. The two kinds of valuations aren’t that different. They’re both sales — one is a specific product and the other is a whole company. In the same way the price of a product is a proxy for its perceived value (you expect something more expensive to be more valuable, after all), the price of your company is a proxy for the expected underlying value (ergo the metrics it’s generating). Be very aware of that and deviate from the framework at your own risk.
Of course, caveats apply:
A) You can optimize for speed or valuation; it’s very hard, if not impossible, to do both.
B) The spread between investors from the U.S. and from the rest of the world is real, so take into consideration where your target investor is from.
C) Different investors will want different things; the earlier ones will be more valuation-sensitive, while the later ones will be more ownership-sensitive.
D) Valuation really is a promise; to go the next stage, you have to materialize the current one. Unless you’re an outlier. If that’s the case, just feel free to ignore every single word I’ve said so far.
By Armando Biondi. He is cofounder and COO of AdEspresso, a Saas Solution for Facebook Ads Optimization. He previously cofounded five other tech and non-tech companies. He’s also an angel investor in Mattermark and 14 more companies. He’s also part of the 500 Startups network, and is an occasional mentor.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Valuations are essential in funding negotiations.

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The Smart Way to Start a Successful Company While Keeping Your Job

The Smart Way to Start a Successful Company While Keeping Your Job | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/16Zh

Moonlighting isn't your only option.

Most aspiring entrepreneurs face a dilemma. They want to start a new business but they don't want to give up their jobs--and the security of their paychecks--until they absolutely have to. On the other hand, launching a successful company is consuming enough without combining it with full-time employment.

What do you do? Most either sacrifice sleep and family time while they struggle to serve two masters, or they leave their jobs and live on savings, spouses, parents, or investment money until the company begins generating revenues.

There may be a third option: Create something your company needs and make your employer your first customer. That approach worked beautifully for serial entrepreneur Steve Elliott when he founded his newest company, agile software development tool AgileCraft.

http://snip.ly/16Zh



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Growthink really understands how to create compelling business plans and raise capital, and Growthink's Capital Raising Products succeed in infusing this knowledge.
-John Morris
Managing Director, GKM Ventures,
Board of Governors, Tech Coast Angels

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great idea!

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17 Venture Capital and Angel Investors to Follow on Twitter

17 Venture Capital and Angel Investors to Follow on Twitter | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/44QO

Follow these super knowledgeable startup investors for insight and advice.

Do you keep a list of venture capitalists on Twitter? You need to add these people now. Social VCs are an incredible source of insight for all entrepreneurs and investors, but particularly for early-stage founders. The VCs listed below have seen the companies they work with face countless different scenarios and situations. They work with dozens of portfolio companies and get pitched hundreds (even thousands) of times a year. Some have been investing in and advising companies for decades; others for just a short time, but with enough huge wins that the rest of us need to sit up and take notice. If you want to learn more about the VC game or even get funded yourself, tune in to these Twitter accounts: Read more here: http://snip.ly/44QO




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Nobody has compared to Growthink. We've gotten interest from angel investors and venture capitalists already.
 And Dave's emails... I love them. They're short and to the point. It's just been a great, great thing.
 Thanks."
 Nancy Hollencamp
The Aubrey Rose Foundation

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Techstars Closes $150 Million Fund for Early-Stage Investments - WSJ

http://snip.ly/lgpc  By Yuliya Chernova

Techstars closed a $150 million early-stage fund, a much larger pool of money than it previously had, that will enable the firm to capitalize on the global network of startup founders and advisers it has built out in recent years.

Techstars launched its first startup accelerator in Boulder, Colo., in 2007. Since then it has spread around the country and internationally. Nearly 500 startups have gone through its programs. (Venture Capital Dispatch recently looked at the performance of these companies.)

Its accelerator graduates went on to raise about $1.1 billion in venture capital. Techstars’ larger network, including the companies in which its 1,500 advisers have been involved, raised even more capital.

The network, for example, includes Uber Technologies Inc., the private company with the most venture capital ever raised, at $2.8 billion. Early Uber employee Ryan Graves was a mentor at Techstars advising its accelerator startups. Techstars invested in one of Uber’s earliest rounds in 2009 through the connection with Mr. Graves, according to Techstars co-founder and Managing Director David Cohen.

But the firm didn’t have much money to capitalize on the successes. Its 2009 fund was just $5 million, and a 2012 second fund was $30 million. The Uber investment came out of the first fund, according to Mr. Cohen. He called the first fund a “rocket ship,” but declined to specify return figures for either fund. Read more here: http://snip.ly/lgpc


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Growthink helped me with two business plans. I liked working with Anna Vitale because she was a professional yet personable and that gave me a sense of trust. Keep up the good work.”


Phil Marcu

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Techstars’ runs accelerator programs in 11 U.S. cities, as well as in London and Berlin. It also has employees in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Landis Thompson's curator insight, February 4, 2015 1:54 PM

...and Incubators are on the rise!

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How to Determine the Value of Your Pre-Revenue Startup

How to Determine the Value of Your Pre-Revenue Startup | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/XEGo

Here are the formulas and turns of phrase the experts use to determine what your work is worth.

Good news: Despite the perception that we in the VC world employ armies of analysts working behind the scenes and prepping us to beat down the valuation expectations of poorly prepared entrepreneurs, nothing could be further from the truth.

Bad news: Much like trading baseball cards, there is no science to pre-revenue valuations. It all comes down to a negotiation. However, there are some basic guidelines for founders that can help both sides come up with a figure that works for everyone.

Read more here: http://snip.ly/XEGo


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Growthink helped me with two business plans. I liked working with Anna Vitale because she was a professional yet personable and that gave me a sense of trust. Keep up the good work.”


Phil Marcu

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

In order to deal with investors you need to learn the ways they work.

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Free Helicopter Ride, Anyone? 40 Awesome and Absurd Tech Company Perks. (Infographic)

Free Helicopter Ride, Anyone? 40 Awesome and Absurd Tech Company Perks. (Infographic) | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/OQy1

While many of these benefits are just good policy, others definitely fall into the 'over-the-top' camp.

We've heard it before, and we'll hear it again: Working at a tech company has definite upsides.Competitive salaries aside, by this point, it's old news that some of the tech industry's hottest companies offer their employees' cushy benefits. Many of these policies – such as Foursquare's decision to subsidize nightly dinners for its employees, Twitter's schedule of free, in-office yoga sessions, and Microsoft's offer of paid parental leave for new mothers and fathers – make real, strategic sense. It's easy to see how free meals can incite longer work hours, wellness programs can lead to a healthier, more productive workforce, and paid parental leave can reduce turnover.But as companies continue to try and one-up each other, the perks are getting a little out of hand. Take, for instance, Asana's policy of giving each employee $10,000 to spend on desk decor, Zynga's arcade and video-game packed lounges, Dropcam's tradition of taking every new hire on a free helicopter ride, or Google's complimentary concierge service for its employees. While each of these perks may arguably translate into a more productive, unified workspace, after a certain point, the justifications begin to stretch a little thin.Regardless of their actual usefulness for attracting and retaining top talent, all of these plush benefits make for fascinating reading. Unum, a financial protection insurer based in the U.K., has compiled an infographic that showcases 40 alternatively useful, over-the-top, and down-right bizarre tech company benefits.From 'Free Massage Fridays' to team trips to Hawaii, check them out below. Read more and see the infographic: http://snip.ly/OQy1




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Twitter Announces Worldwide Startup Contest, ‘Hatch’

Twitter Announces Worldwide Startup Contest, ‘Hatch’ | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Are you building an industry-disrupting app or innovative solution? Is your app powered by Fabric, the Twitter mobile SDK? Are you leveraging the Twitter API to make your solution even more powerful?
If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then Twitter wants you to enter Hatch, its first global startup competition.
And with a grand prize of $25,000 at stake, it’s sure to attract some quality developers.
Other prizes include mentor sessions with Twitter execs, ad credits and VIP access to developer events.
Click on image or title for more information.


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"The Growthink team took our thoughts and ideas and transformed them into a well researched, operationally sound, top notch business plan. Most importantly, they kept us involved in the process and challenged us to build a better business model. I have and would recommend Growthink to any business."
 John Gumersell Jr., Founder


Via Brian Yanish - MarketingHits.com
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Here's the Advice I Give All of Our First Time Founders

Here's the Advice I Give All of Our First Time Founders | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/wD01

First Round is a seed-stage venture firm focused on building a vibrant community of technology entrepreneurs and companies.

Aaron Patzer had come to a crossroads. He knew he was onto something with Mint — but he realized he couldn’t be a successful CEO and also run product for the company. “He's one of the very few founders I've seen who knew it was time to let go and hand things to someone new,” says First Round Partner Rob Hayes, who worked closely with Mint. “He wound up hiring this great guy Aaron Forth, and it helped move the company to the next level. That moment when a CEO gives up their core competency to someone else so they can focus on running the company is the moment they become a great leader.”
Hayes started investing in early-stage startup founders a decade ago, and he always gets the same question: “What should I be doing right now?” Through this experience, he's narrowed down his answer to three things. Patzer did a brilliant job at all three, and notably the most important thing on the list: Hiring the right people. “The other two are don't run out of money and always have a North Star,” says Hayes.
While each of these pieces presents a huge challenge, this framework can be very powerful. “Founders who achieve these goals always succeed,” says Hayes, citing Mint's lucrative sale to Intuit. “If they're constantly thinking to themselves, 'Okay this work in front of me... am I actively achieving one of these three things?' they don't fail.” We recently sat down with Hayes to delve into these three areas of focus and tactics to win at each one.

http://snip.ly/wD01


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-John Morris
Managing Director, GKM Ventures,
Board of Governors, Tech Coast Angels

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Wise advice directly from the insiders of FirstRound.

I can help with hiring, specialty: tech people for startups; fibonaccisequencerecruiting.com

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Before You Make That Pivot | TechCrunch

http://snip.ly/ZZrT

According to Eric Ries, A pivot is a “structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth.” The rise of the Lean Startup methodology, however, has led entrepreneurs to indulge and glorify the pivot without fully weighing the consequences. Changing course opportunistically is a key part of starting a company, but the best startups only pivotwhen absolutely necessary.

As an investor, I love the lean startup methodology. In the early days, the risks of large pivots are small and the upside can be huge. Entrepreneurs should be focused on developing MVPs and proving or disproving hypotheses.

This changes once you take venture capital based on a particular strategy. The clock starts ticking and in my experience, pivots past a certain point can often be painful. Read more here:http://snip.ly/ZZrT


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"Thanks for all you do to encourage entrepreneurship! You and your team have successfully created a road map that most could follow to completion and exit strategy. Yes, it is possible to do these things on your own, but it can be short-cutted by using your strategy."
Jay Ed Moore

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

A pivot is a big decision. Here is some good information.

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80+ Indian startups to work for in 2015

80+ Indian startups to work for in 2015 | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/cCKe

Startups have far from being the 'cool places to work for' to the 'aspirational brands to make dreams come true, for yourself and for others. Here's a an exhaustive list of 80+ Indian startups to work for in 2015.

2014 saw the much awaited funding rush in the Indian startup ecosystem, an industry which otherwise has been driven by only passion. Startups grew exponentially and so did the aspirational value of working in a startup. Freshers from top engineering and management institutes considered working in a startup at par (or even better) with that of MNCs of the world. Senior management was also opening up to experiment to the roller-coaster ride of startups and many of them decided to steer the ships for them.

More here: http://snip.ly/cCKe


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"Thank you for consistently enlightening me with your knowledge of managing an enterprise and experiences of successful entrepreneurs of your part of the world, with your personal touch."
 
Warm Regards,
Bashir Nadeem

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For my Indian Tech followers and visitors.

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20 Questions You Can Ask to Validate Your Startup Idea

20 Questions You Can Ask to Validate Your Startup Idea | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/JuIl

Before you commit significant time, money or other resources to launch, take this test.

Do you have a million-dollar idea in your head, just waiting to be acted upon? Or will it be a complete bust -- an idea with no actual potential for return?
This question is one that stops many would-be entrepreneurs in their tracks before they even take the chance and launch their potential business ventures. Fortunately, it is possible to make a more educated guess on your idea’s likelihood of success or failure by taking the time to validate your idea before moving forward with it.
Here are 20 questions you can ask to validate your startup idea -- before you commit significant time, money or other resources to its launch:

More here: http://snip.ly/JuIl



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"I have so much gratitude in my soul right now. Growthink has helped me to come a long way since I've found the company and started making my business plan.
I'm counting my blessings every day."
Best Regards,
Trevor Houlihan

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5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Networking in the Berlin Startup Scene

5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Networking in the Berlin Startup Scene | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Five Tips to Get the Most Out of Networking in the Berlin Startup Scene

http://snip.ly/3vZk

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Here is a great story of a 'startup girl' in a not so easy startup environment - Berlin. Learn how to network, all the way...

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Richard Branson on How to Raise Money When You're Just Starting Out

Richard Branson on How to Raise Money When You're Just Starting Out | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
There are other options besides big time investors.


Editor's Note: Entrepreneur Richard Branson regularly shares his business experience and advice with readers. Ask him a question and your query might be the inspiration for a future column.

Q.: G’day Richard. I am a young engineering student with little to no practical experience as an entrepreneur. I think I’ve got a great idea, a ready and capable team, but have little money to pursue commercializing my novel product. I fear that potential investors will not take me seriously because of my age (21) and inexperience. How can I convince seasoned investors to believe in my team and invest in my idea? -- Jordan Gruber, Australia

My friends and I came up with the name “Virgin” one day when we were 15 years old, sitting around in a basement. I was keen on the name “Slipped Disc” for our new music venture, but then one of my friends pointed out that when it came to business, “we’re all virgins; why don’t we call it that?” In our case, inexperience proved to be a huge asset -- if we’d gone with the safer option, I’m not sure that many people would be working out at Slipped Disc Health Clubs or banking at Slipped Disc Money!

Innovation and entrepreneurship thrive on the energy of people who are dipping their toes into the water for the first time. Budding entrepreneurs with fresh outlooks have the freedom to think quite differently, which is tremendously exciting to potential collaborators. However, as you’re finding out, Jordan, translating a new concept into a product can be very daunting.


While you might not yet have the right connections or an “in” with major investors, other people out there do -- experienced businesspeople, in your sector or in others, who were once in your shoes and went on to be successful. These people are potential mentors who can help you on your way.

Mentoring is a subject that is very close to our hearts at Virgin; I myself have benefited from many mentors throughout my life. However, don’t consider mentoring as a quick way to gain useful contacts. A good mentoring relationship is based on more than that -- it’s a way to learn valuable lessons from the mistakes someone else has made.

Additionally, I noticed in your message an emphasis on convincing “seasoned investors” to back your idea. While securing huge sums of money from major business figures might seem like the ideal way to propel a business forward, the reality is that very few ventures win this kind of funding. A better alternative might be an online crowdfunding platform. Websites such as Indiegogo not only have the potential to fund the creation of a prototype to get your business up and running, but they also can result in significant publicity.

Another option is taking out a small business loan. In the U.K. we launched Virgin StartUp, a program that provides loans of up to 25,000 pounds to companies trying to get their ideas off the ground. It is well worth your time to look into similar initiatives in your area, and decide whether a loan is the right step for you. As an added benefit, both crowdfunding and small business loans will mean that you can retain full ownership of your business -- you won’t have to give any equity away to investors.

Here are three steps that can help you discover which approach is best for you:

1. EVALUATE AND RESEARCH.

Always be honest with yourself about your abilities, the work you’ll have to put in to get your company up and running, and the amount of money you’re hoping to raise. Research all the options that are available, and evaluate how they would affect your end goal.

Ask yourself: Is your crowdfunding target realistic? How much of a stake in your business are you willing to give to potential investors?

And if you want to find a mentor who can help give you direction and guidance, make sure you find a suitable one. Find out what they do, whether they’ve mentored others before and which sectors they are interested in.

2. GET ON PEOPLE’S RADAR.

Attend industry events such as seminars and conferences. Talk to as many people as possible, and do not immediately launch into a pitch of your product. Be sure to listen and learn from what people have to say.

Networking doesn’t stop at face-to-face contact, either; interact on social media, join LinkedIn groups and keep the relationships going online. When you do approach potential mentors or investors, or if you launch a crowdfunding campaign, you’ll have a degree of visibility.

In fact, the more proactive you are in building your profile, the more likely it is that potential investors will feel confident enough to put their faith in you -- and their money in your company. Remember that the more relationships you build, the better the chances that your network will put you in touch with the people who can help your business.

3. KEEP AN OPEN MIND.

Remember to be flexible. While winning investment might look like the best option now, don’t discount any other opportunities that come your way. For example, crowdfunding might not have the prestige of an investment from a big-time entrepreneur, but it will connect you directly with future customers, and you will have more control over the process.

Keeping an open mind is especially important when it comes to mentoring. Don’t see mentorship as a quick fix for problems, and do not brush off advice. Consider your connection with a mentor as a long-lasting business relationship that can teach you lessons and reduce the potential for failure. But also remember that, as with anything else, you’ll get out of mentoring what you put in.

Making sure that your potential business is a success is not contingent upon gaining a large investment. Many successful companies -- including Virgin -- started with modest funds. Right now, investors might seem like they are the gatekeepers between you and your dream, but the one person who can make your business succeed is not an investor, or even a mentor. It is you.

Good luck!


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Slipped Disc? Always think very carefully about your company name.

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